BEIJING – Eleven workers trapped in a Chinese gold mine for two weeks were safely brought to the surface on Sunday. This is a milestone for an industry that has long been hit by disasters and high deaths.
State television broadcaster CCTV showed workers being pulled up one by one in baskets on Sunday afternoons, protecting their eyes after so many days in the dark.
Some brought their hands together gratefully, and many seemed almost too weak to stand. When the temperature was below zero, they were quickly covered with coats and loaded into ambulances.
Hundreds of rescue workers and officials paid attention and applauded as workers from the mine in Qixia, a Yantai jurisdiction in the east coast of Shandong, were educated.
A worker reportedly died of a head wound following the explosion that left huge amounts of debris in the shaft during construction of the mine on Jan.
The fate of 10 others who were underground at the time is unknown. The authorities have arrested mine managers for delaying reporting the accident.
The cause of the accident is being investigated, but the explosion was large enough to release 70 tons of debris, blocking the shaft, deactivating elevators and holding workers underground.
Rescuers drilled parallel shafts to send food and nutrients down and ultimately educate the survivors, 10 of whom were in a lower chamber and one in a separate area slightly closer to the surface.
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The official China Daily newspaper said on its website that seven of the workers were able to go to ambulances on their own.
Such lengthy and expensive rescue efforts are relatively new to China’s mining industry, which kills an average of 5,000 people a year. Increased oversight has improved safety, although demand for coal and precious metals continues to be cornerstones.
39 miners were killed after two accidents in the mountainous southwest of Chongqing last year.